An arthroscopic chondroplasty is an outpatient procedure used to repair damaged articular cartilage in the knee. The damaged tissues are removed to allow new, healthy cartilage to replace it. Only small incisions are made on the sides of the knee with the help of a small video camera or arthroscope, making recovery time much shorter than other surgeries.
As your knee joint is one of the most used joints in your body, it is more prone to wear and tear. And as you age, the articular cartilage in your joints gets damaged. Articular cartilage allows the bones to move smoothly against each other and withstand the impact of activities like running and jumping. Unlike your skin or bones, articular cartilage isn’t able to heal effectively on its own because it doesn’t have its own direct blood supply. Arthroscopic chondroplasty is a good option to treat mild to moderate cases of cartilage wear and prevent further degeneration of the cartilage.
Often, this procedure is used to address symptoms from significant knee trauma, osteoarthritis, and other degenerative conditions. People experiencing symptoms of damaged cartilage may benefit from arthroscopic chondroplasty. These symptoms could include joint pain, stability issues, and a popping or locking sensation in the affected knee. The goal of the procedure is to lessen friction in the knee joint and allow the knee to move freely and without pain.
One of the main benefits of an arthroscopic chondroplasty is that the smaller incisions mean there is less tissue that needs healing. Also, because the surgery is minimally invasive, recovery time is greatly reduced compared to an open surgery. Many patients will feel relief from their symptoms almost immediately.
Accessing the Joint
The procedure begins by positioning the knee properly for easy access and sterilizing of the skin. Then, two to five small incisions are made around the front of the knee. Through one of the incisions, an arthroscopic camera is inserted. The camera sends the image to a TV that the surgeon uses to see the structure of your knee in better detail. The other incisions will serve as entry points for the other necessary tools.
Surveying the Joint
When everything is in place and ready to go, fluid gets pumped in to expand the joint. This helps give the surgeon a clear view of the joint and more room to work. Here they will inspect the joint to determine the source of the problem.
Removing Damaged Cartilage
Next, your surgeon will use small surgical tools to carefully remove loose tissue. The loose tissue is what may cause the locking or popping sensation if it drifts into the joint. Then, they will remove any other damaged cartilage. During the procedure, your surgeon will also have the opportunity to trim and smooth any roughened arthritic joint surfaces. Fixing these additional problems will help ensure that the surgery provides lasting results.
End of Procedure
After this has been done, the excess fluid is drained and any instruments are removed before the incisions get closed. The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, so you will likely be able to go home that day. As the knee heals, new cartilage will form where the removed cartilage was.
After the Procedure
Your doctor will also likely prescribe physical therapy exercises to be performed as you begin healing. These exercises are extremely important in helping to regain the proper range of motion and ensuring that the knee heals correctly. Recovery time will vary by person, but sticking to the prescribed exercises will help your knee heal faster.